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With more messages coming at audiences through more channels, solid branding strategy has to focus on “cutting through the clutter.”

For those unfamiliar with this phrase, cutting through the clutter means getting attention for your messages relative to all the other messages “cluttering” you target audience’s attention.

Last week, Sprint tried cutting through the clutter with me (although they had already done it in an odd and annoying way with the Narwhals ad and the previous Framily ads).

The most recent attempt to cut through the clutter came via a FedEx envelope arriving in the late afternoon. It contained a letter from the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Sprint and a flier comparing Sprint to T-Mobile on price and performance. The letter set the stage, acknowledging consumers make mobile provider decisions based on rates and network quality. The brochure put Sprint up against T-Mobile, making the case for why we should switch from T-Mobile.

Sprint-vs-TMobile

As a nearly twenty-year customer of a Sprint competitor, going the extra step to attempt cutting through the clutter by reaching me in a surprising format for the product category makes sense.

Here’s the thing, however.

I’m a Verizon customer. I’ve never used T-Mobile.

Doh!

Cutting through the Clutter Isn’t Everything in the Branding Strategy

Sprint cut through the clutter, got my attention, and then completely screwed up the message by demonstrating it had no clue about me. I immediately transferred the lack of knowledge Sprint has of me as a prospect to how little they would know or care about me as a customer!

After posting this picture on Facebook, I learned a high school classmate who IS A SPRINT CUSTOMER received the very same FedEx letter. Sending a competitor comparison to a current customer takes even more of the cake than sending one to the wrong competitor’s customer.

The lesson?

This seems like an example of incompletely answering our favorite strategic thinking question, “What are we trying to achieve?”

Cutting through the clutter of mobile provider marketing messages is ONE THING Sprint is trying to achieve. Mission accomplished.

But that wasn’t the COMPLETE answer.

Sprint is trying to win business from T-Mobile customers, obviously. If that’s the case, basic strategic thinking should have led the folks behind the campaign to invest the time and effort to:

  1. Get good data to understand who the T-Mobile customers are, and
  2. Devise a messaging strategy that would still make sense if the data were bad.

Great marketing is great from the initial idea all the way through to implementation and follow up.

Bad marketing generally goes south right from the start, especially when no one is asking the right questions AND demanding the right answers that steer it toward greatness. –  Mike Brown

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


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The folks at Trendhunter.com sent me a free copy of the newly published innovation strategy book, “Better and Faster – The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas” by the organization’s CEO, Jeremy Gutsche (affiliate link).

BetterAndFasterThe book opens with the story of how scientist Robert Lang’s obsession with origami (including his ability to recognize connections and interpret patterns) led to revolutionary advances in creative paper folding AND space exploration, auto safety, and biotechnology. Gutsche follows it up with stories illustrating three innovation roadblocks and six “patterns of opportunity” behind successful organizations using innovation strategy to its greatest advantage.

The story selection approach Jeremy Gutsche spells out upfront highlights his preference for sharing lesser-told stories.

You certainly find plenty of mentions of the usual suspects, including Apple, Starbucks, Google, and IKEA. It was intriguing, however, to gain insight into the early strategy re-direct that set Victoria’s Secret up for success, the meth-to-millions brand story behind Dave’s Killer Bread, and Gutsche’s own insider perspective on how Capital One uses a credit cards as “information” view to drive an ongoing stream of high- and low-probability innovations.

“Better and Faster” employs a Hunter-Farmer metaphor to organize innovation strategy lessons based on thousands of interviews from the past decade.

The three “Farmer Traps” Gutsche highlights tie to a leader or organization cultivating an expectation of perpetually winning. The specific traps are:

  • Complacency from previous successes
  • Repeating the same formula again and again
  • Ignoring challenges to the organization’s beliefs and perspectives

The main section of “Better and Faster” details six innovation strategy patterns emerging from Trendhunter.com research and analysis:

  • Convergence – Putting various pieces together to create success
  • Divergence – Products and services fighting against the comfortable and familiar
  • Cyclicality – Events and dynamics that repeat in a predicable way
  • Redirection – Changing the current course to leverage and ride a trend
  • Reduction – Stripping away the unnecessary elements of a concept
  • Acceleration – Pushing for faster and more when a feature portends disproportionate opportunity

The book’s final section offers frameworks and applications to better understand applying patterns of opportunity and how they play out in particular industries.

Intrigued by the innovation strategy model “Better and Faster” suggests?

Trendhunter.com has a free download of the book’s first chapter to launch your experience with “Better and Faster.” All you have to do is visit the book’s launch website and tweet about the book.

If you are ready to start taking a hunting approach to innovation strategy, order “Better and Faster” right away at Amazon.com (affiliate link) or directly from the book website and take advantage of variety of special offers. – Mike Brown

 

       Affiliate Link

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Download the FREE Outside-In Innovation Strategy Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

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Want a quick innovation strategy formula you can easily commit to memory?

A 5-Step Innovation Strategy Formula

Here’s a five-step innovation strategy formula that fits the bill:.

Step 1. Try lots of stuff.

Step 2. See what works.

Step 3. Heavy up on stuff that works quickly.

Step 4. Quickly kill stuff that doesn’t work.

Step 5. Revel and repeat.

5-Step-Innovation-Formula

Say it three times, and you’ll have in memory. Follow this five-step innovation strategy formula, especially if you’re in an environment that’s resistant to change, and you’ll soon start reaping the benefits of greater innovation success.

Need more help leading your team’s innovation strategy for new product ideas?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookDo you need to take better advantage of your brand’s customer inputs and market insights to generate innovative product ideas?

With the right combination of perspectives from outside your organization and productive strategic thinking exercises, you can ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

 

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We’ve published a tremendous amount of free content since the Brainzooming blog launched in 2007. As we adapt and expand our own content marketing strategy, one goal is to add new value to evergreen content we’ve already created.

This strategy means adapting, repurposing, and repackaging content in ways that add value for current readers and help us reach new audiences. It can also mean changing where and how we share Brainzooming content.

17 Ways to Add New Value to Evergreen Content

As we often do, more than willing to share our strategy ideas with you as we develop and implement them.

Evergreen-Lookup

Here are 17 ways we’re considering to add new value to evergreen content we’ve already developed:

  1. Update the content to enhance its timeliness
  2. Expand the content so it is more comprehensive
  3. Strengthen the content by making it better researched and authoritative
  4. Create a more effective order for the content
  5. Deliver the content in shorter chunks
  6. Communicate a single piece of content in a longer format with greater depth
  7. Add detail to the content so it answers questions more thoroughly
  8. Increase the frequency with which you publish for those who want more
  9. Decrease the frequency with which you publish for those who want less
  10. Tell a story with the content
  11. Convert the content into an eCard
  12. Enhance the content with lots of photos
  13. Deliver the content across a wider range of media
  14. Create a podcast from the content to make it more portable for the audience
  15. Change the medium in which the content is delivered
  16. Compile separate, but related pieces of content into a more comprehensive format (eBook, compilation video, presentation, etc.)
  17. Recompose the content from a different perspective

What can you grab off this list for your content marketing strategy?

We’re further narrowing this list of ways to add new value to evergreen content. What ideas could work best for you on this list to deliver greater value to your audiences from your content marketing strategy? – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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I was demonstrating several Brainzooming techniques for identifying valuable business analogies during a workshop on creative thinking exercises. Small groups were identifying comparable situations to a situation where individuals were being moved within an organization, quickly forming new groups, and leaving challenges in the wake of the moves. Each group used the “My situation is like” creative thinking exercise to generate multiple analogies.

Some analogies were very specific and creatively rich in possibilities (i.e., a beehive where drones are dying off or a sports all-star team quickly forming and performing). Others were overly general, such as “doing more with less.”

There’s an important lesson in this experience about how specific or general you should be with creative thinking exercises.

Bee-Hive

How Specific Should You Be with Creative Thinking Exercises?

In certain creative thinking exercises, general examples allow people to think more broadly about their own situations in a less encumbered fashion. Often, however, a more general description is only needed to help identify a very specific, analogous example to use as further creative thinking inspiration. Specific, possibilities-rich examples work well with creative thinking exercises such as, “What’s it like?”

Using a general situation, such as “doing more with less,” makes it too easy for a group to simply focus on their typical day-to-day roles and regurgitate the same things they always do.

With a very specific and markedly different analogy, however, group members begin playing a different role and thinking about their situation in a new way.

The lesson?

Pay attention when you’re using creative thinking exercises to prompt a group’s new consideration of its opportunities and challenges. Do you need to view the issue on the table specifically or generally? Decide early and use strategic thinking exercises to guide them accordingly because whichever direction you pick has a major impact on the creative thinking that follows.

Need help guiding your team’s creative thinking for innovative product ideas?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookDo you need to take better advantage of your brand’s customer inputs and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? With the right combination of perspectives from outside your organization and productive strategic thinking exercises, you can ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Mike Brown

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In light of yesterday’s article on living a life of no surprises, I received a related question the other day: “What can you do if you are trying to do strategic planning and implementation within an event-driven environment where uncontrollable situations can wreak havoc on the organization’s priorities and focus?”

Here are four steps we recommend for strategic planning when you are trying to anticipate unplanned events and their potential impact.

Step 1 – Anticipate Unplanned Events

An important strategic planning step in this type of environment is to anticipate as many of the potential events as you can. This applies even if you cannot control all of the possible occurrences that could derail the strategic plan’s implementation. We have shared a few Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises previously to help accomplish this exploration including:

The key is being able to efficiently generate as long a list of potential future events as is possible, practical, and addressable.

Future-Look

Photo by hjalmeida

Step 2 – Identify High-Impact Unplanned Events

How then do you prepare to prioritize and perform strategic planning while recognizing all the potential events you have identified?

You can prioritize the list by having individuals rate each event for its potential maximum magnitude and the probability of each event actually happening. Multiplying the two answers for each possible event provides a quick sense of the potential relative magnitude across all the events.

Step 3 – Plan the First Few Steps

Next, identify the first several tactics you would pursue if each event were to happen. You do not need to outline a complete strategic plan for each event. Instead, concentrate on detailing the first three tactics you would want to have ready to go should the event surface.

>>Link to Mike and Angie traveling post (2008)

Step 4 – Prioritize the Most Applicable Tactics

Finally, look across the events and the initial tactics you identified for each. What are the common actions within the first few steps for multiple events? This look offers a sense of the highest-impact, most flexible moves you can make when events start to change.

Simple and Done

This is obviously a very high-level approach to better handling strategic planning in an event-driven environment.

If this high-level approach is not sufficient for addressing your organization’s tolerance for event-based risk, you can do much more in-depth scenario planning.

But if your organization avoids this issue completely because it struggles to reach an aggressive level of strategic planning detail, a simple approach is far better than ignoring potential vulnerabilities and simply hoping implementation-altering events just don’t happen. – Mike Brown

 

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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The April 2015 Psychology Today has a story on Tania Luna. Ukrainian-born and Brooklyn-based, Ms. Luna is a “Suprisologist.”

What, you might ask, is a Surprisologist?

At least I asked that question.

As a Suprisologist, she has her own company, Surprise Industries, devoted to creating unique surprises for its customers. Luna has also co-authored a book, “Surprise: Enhance the Unpredictable & Engineer the Unexpected” on the importance of surprise.

Luna admits in the interview that she definitely has had a preference for control during her life. She links this, at least in part, to an unpredictable environment as a child. Controlling things and having a “no surprises” outlook was a coping mechanism to feel “safe and secure and in charge.”

Why My Personal Life Is No Surprises

Her admission caught my eye. I operate between an appreciation for surprise and a living situation causing me to go to extreme measures to make sure there are “no surprises” because of the harm they could cause.

No-surprises-fortune-cookie

My wife has Fibromyalgia and related health issues. This includes particularly harsh reactions to many foods and environmental conditions. As a result, the “unexpected” is bad.

One extreme example?

My wife offered to visit a seafood restaurant I wanted to try even though she can’t eat seafood any longer. We went during a happy hour and grabbed a seat at the bar. She scoured the menu to find SOMETHING she could eat and settled on onion straws as the only option. When the waiter brought our food, she took two bites and said, “I don’t think these are onion straws.” Her neck was already turning completely red and she was having trouble breathing. The bartender admitted he had mistakenly served her calamari.

We quickly paid and headed to a drug store. She was moving too far along in the food reaction, though. I drove like crazy to a nearby hospital emergency room where they gave her intravenous medicine to counteract the reaction. As I told the restaurant owner when we met him later at an event, “Your bartender’s mistake could have killed me wife.”

These types of possibilities are why everything is about no surprises and making sure unexpected events aren’t part of our life.

Any restaurant we visit has to be a familiar, “safe” restaurant (knowing they can become “unsafe” via an unannounced recipe change). Nights out at a concert or a movie are subject to cancellation or being cut short because of health issues, so we stay home. We can’t travel together because of her discomfort and concerns about being away from the coping structure home offers. Even trying to do something nice for her that’s not pre-approved can backfire in a big way.

It’s ironic.

While extolling the benefits of new experiences on creative thinking, the most important relationship in my life is focused on avoiding surprises, changes, and unexpected events.

Creative Thinking and Surprises

I find myself thinking a lot about how to keep things new for me since it’s an essential part of our livelihood, while maintaining the view I’ve always had about our relationship as a team. That means not maintaining separate lives, even if it results in staying home because we CAN do that together.

One counter approach to boost my creative thinking reserves is putting myself in other peoples’ hands that are familiar with being adventurous whenever I’m doing something for business. If it’s a lunch, I suggest someone else pick an unusual restaurant. If it’s a meeting, I want to go to unusual locations. I seek out new churches at home and on trips for daily mass (although returning to the same churches years later, you see the same faces in exactly the same pews).

Now you see why a Surprisologist intrigues me so much.

The search for surprises in the narrow part of my life that doesn’t have to be “no surprises” needs the intriguing attention a Surprisologist could deliver! – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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